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The Kiss: Mapping and Anamorphosis

The Kiss: Mapping and Anamorphosis

The Kiss, preserved today in the Belvedere Museum in Vienna, is indisputably Klimt’s most iconic piece.

He unveils the canvas for the first time in 1908 at Vienna’s first Kunstschau. However, having been so occupied with organising the exhibition, the painting is unfinished. He resolves to unveil it anyway.

This painting from the Golden Phase explores romantic utopia, a theme Klimt has already flirted with in previous works. In The Kiss, originally entitled The Lovers, a man and woman are knelt down, embracing. The man tenderly cradles the woman's face while she, eyes closed, indulges in the embrace of his delicate hands. The man’s face is completely hidden. Once again, Klimt places more importance on the representation of woman.

The couple, bathed in ornamentation, seem out of time. Their bodies merge in a bed of gold. Nevertheless, what delineates the figures is that the male figure is presented in a grey and white geometric motif, while the female, is adorned with flowers and colorful curves. The lovers cling to each other atop a flower bed that stretches across the bottom of the canvas, the rest of the scene is sheathed in gold.

It has been suggested that the lovers are in fact Gustav Klimt himself and Emilie Flöge. Emilie is his lifelong friend and they spend their summers together on Lake Attersee. While it is true that the woman in The Kiss shares Emilie’s red hair color and that the garlands of foliage glistening at their feet could be a nod to a similar motif of algae in another of Klimt’s pieces, the artist never confirms this theory.

Anamorphosis and mapping

Klimt’s work is characterised by an extremely unique take on depth. His signature? A face painted on a highly decorative background, free of perspective.

The dual technology of mapping and anamorphosis allows us to appreciate The Kiss on another level by manipulating it and bringing it to life. It allows for a new, textured, perspective of this Golden Phase masterpiece.

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